- Posted September 24, 2012 by
Charlotte, North Carolina
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Photo essays: Your stories in pictures
Sick Veteran Needs Medical Care
I recently began experiencing serious back pain. I tried to schedule an appointment with my regular V.A. doctor, Dr. J. Millan at the V.A. Outpatient Clinic in Charlotte, NC. After several attempts, beginning on September 13th, I was completely unable to reach anyone to schedule the appointment, or even speak with a healthcare professional on the phone.
I finally gave in and went to the W.G. Hefner Medical Center V.A. emergency unit in Salisbury, NC on September 14th, where I was made to wait in excruciating pain for over 6 hours before finally being seen by Dr. Radwan Ibrahim. His examination was rudimentary at best, consisting of mostly asking me where it hurt. I was told it was muscle spasms, prescribed 3 medications, and sent home.
The medications did nothing to curb the pain, nor treat the symptoms, so I went to the Charlotte V.A. Outpatient Center as a walk-in on September 18th, after several more unsuccessful attempts at reaching Dr. Milan. On this visit, they did blood work and a urinalysis. I was then told that I had a "giant" fibroid in my uterus. I was told that I would need to be seen by a gynecologist, and that a referral would be put in by Dr. Millan in order for me to be seen by one. I was also refused any further medication, even after repeatedly stating that the medications prescribed by Dr. Ibrahim were not working. I was also refused a note for missing the classes I am currently enrolled in at Central Piedmont Community College, despite my explanation that I was simply in too much pain to sit in a classroom for hours.
On September 20th, I received the results of my urinalysis from Dr. Millan, in which she stated that there was some blood in my urine, possibly caused by kidney stones or a urinary tract infection. I was told that I should return to the W.G. Hefner Medical Center V.A. emergency unit in Salisbury for an ultrasound, which I did immediately.
As poor as the attention and treatment I had received on my previous visit there had been, this time was worse. I was seen by Dr. Natu Patel who, despite numerous attempts to explain to him that I needed an ultrasound (as ordered by another doctor) to determine whether I did, in fact, have kidney stones, outright refused to do the procedure. He reiterated that it was simply muscle spasms, giving me almost no examination of his own. Again, I was prescribed some pills for pain, and sent on my way after a one-on-one visit that lasted less than 5 minutes.
By this time, I was so disillusioned and unsatisfied with the treatment I was being given through Veterans Affairs that I immediately left Dr. Patel's office, and went to the Carolinas Medical Center Northeast emergency unit in Concord, NC. I was seen by Dr. Scott Centers, who gave me outstanding care, performing both additional urinalysis and a CT scan. The CT scan showed the uteran fibroids were pushing against my spine and bladder, thus causing the pain in my back. Dr. Centers echoed the previous advice of seeing a gynecologist. He prescribed stronger pain medication. He also issued a note excusing me from my previously mentioned college classes.
On September 21st, after much difficulty, I reached a representative at the Charlotte V.A. Outpatient Center, attempting to receive an update on my referral to a gynecologist. To my utter dismay, I was told that no such referral had been entered. I was told that they would get my results from the previous nights visit to Carolinas Medical Center, and I would receive a phone call with further instructions. As of now, I have not received any further calls from the Charlotte V.A. Outpatient Center.
In addition to the obvious frustration and dismay I have endured, the lack of attention I have been given by Veterans Affairs has caused me to be absent from an entire week of my college classes at Central Piedmont Community College.
I have tried to be patient in this very serious health matter, but it has reached a point where my patience has completely worn out. People deserve better treatment than this, which is why I have decided to take my complaint to the highest level, and reach out to my congressional representative. It is my sincere hope that not only will you assist me in this matter, but also help all other veterans who are experiencing the same kind of careless attitude and poor treatment from Veterans Affairs.
Thank you for your time and assistance.
Venus Robinson Smitherman